by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D
Golly, it is hard to believe that it has been several months since we posted a new blog. To be honest, we’ve been pretty busy with traveling, teaching, and working with veterans across the country, yet during any down time we had, I just didn’t feel like writing. Until now and even today I can’t fully admit that I’m eager to write again. But today, I simply suspect that I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself and want to at least think that by writing this blog I am doing something more useful than sitting on the couch or the toilet, lying in bed, and attempting to hobble around the house one more time.
A week ago I underwent knee replacement surgery. For the life of me I am still trying to convince myself that this was a good idea or even necessary, since even on my worst day I never felt this awful or been in such pain. Does this sound a bit like whining? To quote Bret’s famous line at the end of the movie, Gone With the Wind, “Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn!” Doctor’s never fully explain or show videos of how much fun the recovery process will be, especially, the first two weeks. If they did, I wonder how many candidates would opt for the procedure. It’s kind of like when one is going through pregnancy classes, they never show the birth movies until close to the end of the nine months. Not that it is going to change one’s mind at such a late date or would make any difference because that living football inside of you has to come out sometime, and trust me it will not be “deflated”.
During my whiney period, I got to contemplate the effects of pain on our mental and physical world. My acute pain, hopefully, is only going to last for ten days to two weeks. So many of our veterans have to endure months and even years of unbelievable hurt not knowing when or if the agony will ever go away. I think about the thousands of individuals going through horrendous procedures to combat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many challenging illnesses. It is this kind of pain I really can’t imagine. I can’t imagine the stamina and courage it takes to get us through each day only to face another twenty-four hours of hell. One of my sister’s had to make this cancer journey and even today she continues to be one of my heroes.
The effects of severe pain at times can take over not just the body but the mind. It is hard to remember when you felt normal; it is tricky to maintain any kind of short-term memory. Heck, I couldn’t tell you what I did fifteen minutes ago, nor do I care. Thank goodness my children are grown and not in need of a “functional” mother. Bailey, my husband’s service dog, is pretty persistent, however, to remind me that he needs fed (if Tony isn’t around). The constant pain impacts my ability to maintain a positive attitude. It is so much easier to be gnarly than to be kind. Reminds of a Maxine cartoon my sister sent me. Constant, acute pain make it difficult to be empathetic to others in need or to even realize that even in your worst pain, there is probably, someone out there enduring an event even more challenging and taxing.
The only things I can do at these difficult moments are to take a deep breath, pray, count my many blessing, and be hopeful that this too will end. Oh, and to shout very, very loud, “I am never going to go through another ##### knee surgery again!!!!” Unless, dementia fails to remind me of how #### fun this experience has been.